Resolve to Share our parks more in 2024

Message From The Director

State parks belong to us all! Not a novel concept, I know.  Did you know that spending time in parks can have a positive effect on your mental and physical health? Of course you did, you’re reading a newsletter from a state park service! Parks can have a positive impact on the economies of the area they are located, serve as a conservation area, protect wildlife, teach, inspire, share our history and are part of the fabric of what we are as a society. From protected maritime forests and significant historical sites to waterfalls, trails and lakes, South Carolina State Parks offer its users so much.  So why are we such a secret to many?

I have had the good fortune of being an Ultimate Outsider several times over and cannot imagine a world where these magnificent places aren’t a day trip away.  From my home in Columbia, I can be at a park on the ocean or hiking a waterfall trail in the mountains in just a few hours.  Like most of us, I don’t take advantage of these as often as I would like, or as often as I should. Even when I am not using them though, somehow, the thought of these properties existing and being enjoyed just seems to make my life a little brighter. Yet, as I travel around the state and meet different groups, I am always amazed at the number of our citizens who, not only don’t use, but don’t even know what they have access to.

How many of you have had the experience of sharing a story about a park with friends and have seen the surprised reaction on their faces?  The, wow I didn’t know we had that in our state, or really, they do that there? People in our own circles don’t know about parks, and we are power users! It always seems so strange that something that seems so basic to me, using a state park, is such a foreign concept to someone else, yet even my own experiences show that to be true. No matter how many posts in my news feed I see, or articles I read, for many, state parks are still just a concept, not a reality.

To break down the reasons why people don’t use parks is a task beyond my abilities for sure, and I know the reasons are many and varied, but for some people, it is as simple as no one has ever asked them to come to a park. They haven’t been taken on a walk in the woods, attended a ranger talk or asked to join in on a cabin vacation.  The people I talk to who don’t use our parks didn’t grow up going to parks, and they don’t have any idea what to do once they get there. They need an invitation and a guide!

Our park team has always served as that front line, welcoming and sharing these special places, and they do an incredible job of making people feel welcome once they get there, but we frown upon them kidnapping people and bringing them to their parks. So we need your help. You know the benefits of parks and how to use them. So let’s share these great resources with those we know! Instead of meeting for dinner, start with a walk on the trail and then dinner.  Sign up for one of our programs, and bring a friend who hasn’t been to one before. Grab an extra Ultimate Outsider book and share the journey with others.

In 2024, I want to share parks with more people who haven’t seen the incredible places South Carolina has to offer. I want to do it loud with our marketing programs and across our social media platforms. More importantly I want to do it quietly with the people I know well who aren’t park users. I want to spread the wealth of benefits available to those who use parks to those closest to me, and I hope you want to do the same.


January 2024